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Teens lack jobs despite job effort

Views 0 Views    Comments 0 Comments    Share Share    Posted 23-09-2009  
The Obama administration`s economic stimulus program to find jobs for thousands of teenagers this summer couldn`t overcome one of the bleakest job markets in more than 60 years that had desperate adults competing for the same work.

Almost one-quarter of the 279,169 youths in the $1.2 billion jobs program didn`t get jobs, as more adults sought the same low-wage positions at hamburger stands and community pools, according to an Associated Press review of government data and reports from states.

Congressional auditors warned Wednesday that the government`s plans to measure the success of the federal program are so haphazard that they "may reveal little about what the program achieved." The new report from the Government Accountability Office said many government officials, employers and participants believe the program was successful.

Vice President Joe Biden described the Workforce Investment Act summer program as a way to keep teens out of trouble and off the streets while reinvigorating the country`s summer youth employment program, which had gone dormant for a decade. But the program didn`t prevent youth unemployment rates from soaring to 18.5 percent in July, the highest rate measured among 16- to 24-year-olds in that month since 1948.

"The summer program was basically half-disaster," said Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston. "It was too little, too late and too poorly constructed to have any lasting effect on our youngest workers."

Cameron Hinojosa, 16, went through a two-day stimulus-funded workshop on how to write a resume. But he didn`t end up with a job because the summer program in Fresno County, in the heart of recession-battered central California, had already ended.

"When I went in I was hoping I would get a job and was looking forward to getting that extra money," said Hinojosa, who had planned to share his earnings with his mother to pay bills for their household of eight. "You get some adults that got laid off from their jobs, so you still have to work against them."

In Illinois, the GAO said, some local officials didn`t follow eligibility rules. Paperwork was missing from some files in California. Some youths who got jobs through the program had trouble collecting their paychecks, waiting in lines up to four hours in the rain, and sometimes police were called to help with crowd control, the GAO said.

In Pennsylvania and Connecticut, bureaucratic holdups kept some young workers from entering training programs until July, cutting into summer job opportunities
, the AP`s review found. In California, which received about 16 percent of all funds nationwide, less than half the participants reported getting jobs by the end of July, the most recent month for which state and national youth employment figures are available.

"Things are still totally chaotic with this program," said Rachel Gragg, federal policy director for The Workforce Alliance, a Washington-based group that advocates for more national job training funds. "In many communities they will tell you that they are still struggling to understand where the money is and where it is coming from."

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